Kahnawake Tourism and Maison LePailleur in Chateauguay presented the fourth edition of Corn Fest at the Kahnawake Sports Complex to showcase the traditional art, food, and techniques to visitors last Saturday.
According to Kahnawake Tourism, over 700 people attended the event on September 24 to enjoy traditional activities, sports, dance, and meals to learn more about local businesses and organizations.
The tours and events coordinator, Jordan Diabo, felt excited to be hosting this event again in partnership with Maison LePailleur after a two-year gap caused by COVID-19.
“It is to celebrate our history with corn and circle ceremonies,” she said. We want to bring more people to Kahnawake to create friendships, to show awareness about what is going on and to have a good relationship with surrounding communities,” she said.
Geneviève Renaud, coordinator of the event at Maison LePailleur, said the museum is proud to offer both communities a day in which people can gather and celebrate shared history and heritage.
“There are so many things to do,” she said, “We’ve been doing it for years, pre and post-COVID. It is important because there is something about the culture that is both unique and alive.
“It is just to start a bigger connection between Kahnawake and Chateauguay,” Renaud continued. “As a museum, we can be a central point to build that bridge between the communities, with different activities and projects that we can do in both communities.”
She explained that Maison LePailleur brought a special team to present unique creations and products made from the local boutiques, “meaning uniting the communities and reconciling our communities over time.
“We hope to raise a small amount of money for the youth center and give back to the communities as well,” Renaud said. “Other tents (vendors) from our community have traditional techniques of how to make butter, and some have techniques of dyeing.”
Bernard Doutre, an actor invited by Maison LePailleur, came to show some techniques and devices from the 18th century.
“We have a little kiosk for children to make butter,” he said. “You have to be patient – it takes 15 to 20 minutes – that they can actually turn cream into butter, so we have a couple of families that came here to make butter today.”
Barbara Twardowsky, a visitor from Chateauguay, originally from Poland, came with her four children as she believes this festival is all about learning for the younger generation.
“For me, it is important to share cultures,” she said, “It’s more open to the world, people are nice, also encouraging artists.”
Kimberly Cross, the tourism development manager for Kahnawake Tourism, believes people are happy that the event is happening again after the COVID restrictions.
“Being in a partnership with Maison LePailleur, it strengthens the relationship between people,” Cross said. “It’s nice to have that interaction. “We have a lot of different history with Chateauguay,” she added. “Starting with the Oka Crisis in 1990, Chateauguay has not always been the best of neighbors to us as Kahnawa’kehró:non. For a lot of people, there is still a lot of that trauma, still lots of hesitation having relationships with Chateauguay, but when we started collaborating, we met one another to have good relationships.”
Cross thinks it is nice to bring traditional singers and dancers together with historical artifacts provided by Maison LePailleur.
“It’s cool because we see those differences and similarities,” she said. “Because our cultures have been intertwined for so long, because we are neighbours, and it is important to highlight that.”
Community member Skanaie:a Deer, came to the event to teach people from both communities how to make traditional corn husk dolls.
“It is a relatively uncomplicated craft,” Deer said. “But it leaves a lot of time for communication and getting to know each other. People come here to learn more about Kahnawake. They are very curious, and it is nice to be in charge of the narrative when it comes to our community.”